Nails can be used as canvasses for personal expression. Long, short, polish, or not polish, it all can describe you. Sometimes even without you consciously knowing, your nails can tell more about you at first glance than any other aspect of your body. Nails can also tell you a lot about your overall health. The appearance, texture, and color of your nails can reveal underlying issues that might otherwise go unnoticed. Understanding what your nails are trying to tell you can be an important step in maintaining your well-being.

There are many things you can notice in your nails that may directly lead to health issues, while some nail problems can just be cosmetic. It can be difficult to decipher what means what, so 21Ninety spoke to. Dr. Blen Tesfu about nail health.

What Your Nails Say About Your Health

According to Dr. Tesfu, there are a few common nail conditions that are a cause for concern. One condition is called Onychomycosis. This is a fungal infection of the nails, leading to nail discoloration, thickening, and sometimes crumbling. Another condition is called Beau’s Lines, which are Horizontal ridges or indentations that move with nail growth. These can be tricky because they can be a sign of an illness or just a condition that interrupted nail formation.

It’s important to take into account the different types of factors that you could be doing to affect your nails, instead of your nails conveying a message to you about your health. Your diet, for one, can impact your nails, according to Dr. Tesfu. Some deficiencies in vitamins like biotin, iron, and protein, can affect your nail health. Constant nail biting, use of chemicals and even certain medications can lead to damaged nails.

When it comes to what exactly your nails tell you about your health, there are a few things you should pay attention to:

  • Iron Deficiency Anemia: Spoon-shaped nails (koilonychia).
  • Kidney Disease: Half-white, half-pink nails.
  • Liver Disease: White nails or a prominent white section on the top of the nails.
  • Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis: Red cuticles or a lupus band which is a dark band at the top of the nails.
  • Diabetes: Yellowish nails with a slight blush at the base.
  • Psoriasis: Nail pitting or onycholysis.

Dr. Tesfu says that you should see a doctor if you notice any pain or swelling, discoloration, dramatic changes in your natural nail or unexplained nail loss.